NTUC First Campus partners SUSS to uplift the quality of education leaders and childcare practices

Singapore, June 29, 2020 – NTUC First Campus (NFC) and the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) have jointly launched the first-of-its-kind Early Childhood Education Leadership (ECEL) certificate in the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) sector, and take the lead in uplifting the quality of education leaders and childcare practices. This breakthrough programme places emphasis on both knowledge acquisition as well as ongoing on-the-job application. More than 400 ECCE leaders will benefit from this programme over five years.

Pre-school professionals who successfully complete this programme will be jointly awarded a Certificate in Early Childhood Education Leadership by NFC and SUSS. With this Certificate, those who aspire to pursue a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education with SUSS will be given a credit recognition of 40 credit units from the ECEL. In addition, eligible NFC staff who are taking the Bachelor of Early Childhood Education and meet the criteria can apply for another 20 credit units under Recognition for Prior Learning (RPL)1 based on NFC’s Memorandum of Understanding with SUSS in 2018 (link). These 60 out of 130 credit units will enable them to complete the degree with just over half the time needed.

Through this collaboration, NFC and SUSS aim to:
(i) build strong education leaders by enabling them to construct knowledge through inquiry and apply theory into practice at their workplaces so that they can be exemplary practitioners of key skills that uplift childcare practices in the sector

(ii) support Early Childhood (EC) leaders in their career progression by providing opportunities for them to broaden their perspectives, deepen knowledge and hone their skills

This one-year certificate programme achieves these aims by integrating classroom learning with structured workplace learning. It will be open to pre-school professionals who are currently in team leader positions. The first cohort will matriculate on 1 July 2020 and comprise nominated NFC staff who are Deputy Centre Leads (Vice-Principal equivalent) and have fulfilled the admissions requirements by SUSS. They will complete 4 practice-based courses and achieve the learning outcomes over a 12-month on-the job application. The assessment structure will be purely based on assignments and how they apply what they learn to their own workplace so that they can study while continuing their jobs.

Overview of ECEL
As a leader of a network of childcare centres, NFC drew on its experience and expertise to design this practice-oriented leadership programme. This programme reflects and addresses challenges at childcare centres and strengthens the core competencies that are critical for the holistic development of education leaders. It focuses on growing leaders who are able to drive professional and personal development for themselves and their teams, think interdependently to resolve challenges in the workplace, identify innovative ways to transform and uplift centre practices, and build strong professional competencies– especially in the aspects of curriculum and pedagogical leadership.

The 4 courses are largely co-designed by SUSS and NFC and will be conducted by NFC’s senior leaders who have many years of experience and are well-recognised in the ECCE sector for their contributions. They are designed to empower the leaders with strong knowledge and skills to support children from all backgrounds

The “Introduction to Pedagogical & Curriculum Leadership” course empowers participants to be strong pedagogical and curricula leaders. The “Quality Assurance for Early Childhood Education Leaders” course inculcates in them the principles, concepts and practices related to centre quality. The “Positive Early Childhood Education” course is an important precondition for fostering growth and learning while the “Supporting Preschool Children with Diverse Needs” course equips participants with the necessary knowledge and skills to support the well-being of children from less advantaged backgrounds. For more details, please refer to Annex A.

The courses will be conducted over a twelve-month period via classroom learning and experiential learning. Relevant academic resources will be provided to the participants including access to SUSS’ libraries and online academic resources for them to read, research, have discussions, reflections and evaluations.

While the participants progressively acquire new knowledge from the courses, they will concurrently undergo the on-the-job application over the same 12-month period. This enables them to immediately apply their new knowledge in their work environment. The participants will be mentored by Practice Specialists and Principals who will regularly observe, give them feedback, and explore ways to deepen and sustain the learning initiatives for them to strengthen their professional expertise and quality of their centres. SUSS will also meet the mentors quarterly to ensure the progress of the participants.

NFC and SUSS will be co-designing and co-delivering the on-the-job application aspect of the certificate programme to closely integrate theory and practice as well as co assessing participants’ performance in their pre-schools.

NTUC First Campus’ CEO, Mr Chan Tee Seng, said: “Through our partnership with SUSS, we hope to combine the rigour and high standards that SUSS brings with strong practice-based application at childcare centres. NFC will invest more than S$3.5 million over 5 years to design and implement this programme with SUSS. Our goal is to empower pre-school professionals to perform their role as pedagogical leaders in their centres.”

SUSS Provost, Prof Tsui Kai Chong, said: “SUSS is glad to be a part of this meaningful collaboration with NTUC First Campus, to provide industry-relevant continuing education for our EC professionals as well as to grow the pool of leadership talent.”

Minister for Education, Mr Ong Ye Kung, said: “SUSS and NTUC First Campus have led the way for the Early Childhood sector by coming up with this breakthrough certificate programme for pre-school professionals – work-learn in nature, and tapping on industry to deliver lessons. This model of partnership, will enrich the offerings and choices for higher education, ranging from pure academics to highly applied and practice-based programmes. It is especially relevant in an industry like early childhood, where the ability to apply the new skills and knowledge in a classroom setting is critical. This is a fundamental aspect of SkillsFuture.”

1 RPL is a form of assessment that recognises learning and capabilities that a person has acquired outside of formal education, largely through work experience.

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For media queries and interviews, please contact: 
Ms Wu Yingshan 
Assistant Director, Brand, Communications & Marketing
NTUC First Campus
Tel: 6509 7458
Email: d3V5aW5nc2hhbkBudHVjZmlyc3RjYW1wdXMuY29t

Ms Michelle Lee
Manager, Brand, Communications & Marketing
NTUC First Campus
Tel: 6509 7402
Email: bWljaGVsbGUubGVlQG50dWNmaXJzdGNhbXB1cy5jb20=

Ms Valerie Ng
Senior PR Manager, Communications & Marketing
Singapore University of Social Sciences
Tel: 6248 0364
Email: dmFsZXJpZW5nd3dAc3Vzcy5lZHUuc2c=

Mr Tian Zhiyuan
Manager, Communications & Marketing
Singapore University of Social Sciences
Tel: 6248 8836
Email: enRpYW5Ac3Vzcy5lZHUuc2c=

About NTUC First Campus
As a thought and practice leader in the early childhood care and education field, NTUC First Campus Co-operative Limited (NFC) has been partnering working families to fulfil the promise of young children since 1977. We believe that every child, from every background, deserves equal opportunity to enjoy a quality early education for a good start in life. The NFC portfolio of pre-school brands comprises: My First Skool, The Little Skool-House International, and The Caterpillar’s Cove. We also support the development of the early childhood sector through The SEED Institute, while afterschool by NTUC First Campus provides school-based student care to support working families. For more information, please visit www.ntucfirstcampus.com.

About SEED Institute
SEED Institute is built upon a vision to give children the best head-start in life. Set up in 1989 by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), in collaboration with the Bernard van Leer Foundation, a Dutch private philanthropic foundation, the Institute has groomed and accredited close to 15,000 early childhood professionals to provide the best care and education to young children in Singapore and the region.

With decades of accrued knowledge and expertise, SEED Institute now supports the development of both the local and international early childhood communities by offering practice-oriented training and consultancy services. It has also built the capabilities to deliver whole-of-organisation training for early childhood operators of all sizes.

Recognising that parents play a pivotal role in their children’s education, Parents College was set up to partner and support families with young children with online and offline resources and services in parenting and school-related matters.

SEED Institute is also developing children’s enrichment and outdoor learning and adventure programmes that supports the holistic development of children beyond their preschools.

For more information, please visit www.seedinstitute.edu.sg

About the Singapore University of Social Sciences
SUSS is a university with a rich heritage in providing lifelong, learner-centric and industry-relevant education.  Our mission is to champion lifelong education to develop future thinkers and leaders to their fullest potential through our 3H’s education philosophy – ‘Head’ for professional competency with applied knowledge, ‘Heart’ for social awareness of the needs of the society, and ‘Habit’ for passion towards lifelong learning.

We offer more than 70 undergraduate and graduate programmes, available in full- and part-time study modes which are flexible, modular and multi-faceted in learning experience to cater to both fresh school leavers and adult learners. We also launched a broad range of continuing education and training modular courses for the professional skills and knowledge upgrading of our workforce.

Our programmes and courses are made available through our five schools:

  • S R Nathan School of Human Development
  • School of Business
  • School of Humanities and Behavioural Sciences
  • School of Law
  • School of Science and Technology

To date, over 30,000 graduates have chosen SUSS as their university of choice. Each year, about 15,000 students are pursuing their full- and part-time studies with us.

From 1 April 2019, the Institute for Adult Learning (IAL) became an autonomous institute of SUSS. Both entities enable a synergistic collaboration as IAL brings to SUSS its expertise and experience in adult learning and Continuing Education and Training (CET), while SUSS provides an ecosystem of resources and experts rooted in academic rigour.

For more information on SUSS, please visit www.suss.edu.sg

Annex A
Details of practice-based courses under the ECEL Programme

 Courses Details
 (a) Introduction to Pedagogical & Curriculum Leadership
 • Examines the ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ of Early Childhood curriculum and pedagogy and teach specialist/advanced teaching techniques across the early childhood spectrum from birth to six years of age

• Equips participants with the foundational knowledge and skills to lead, mentor, and support teachers in curriculum implementation, underpinned by key early childhood education theories and pedagogical practices

 (b) Positive Early Childhood Education
 • Introduces the key theories and application of Positive Education; support the participants in understanding these and the need for a holistic and systemic approach to begin transforming an education institution into a positive one

(c) Supporting Pre-school Children with Diverse Needs
• Revisit theories to appraise the impact on child development, develop strategies to address diversity in children’s learning and families’ background and discuss programmes and resources to meet these diverse needs

• Increase the participants’ awareness on the importance of providing the appropriate level of support to pre-school children with diverse needs

 (d) Quality Assurance for Early Childhood Education Leaders
• Through teaching the principles, concepts and practices related to centre quality (i.e. Strategic Planning, Staff Planning and Engagement to Curriculum and Pedagogies) and a framework of understanding a quality childcare system, participants will have a fundamental understanding of how Quality Assurance guides and support cycles of improvement

• Content is conducted with reference to the Singapore Preschool Accreditation Framework (SPARK) and the accompanying Quality Rating Scale (QRS)


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